Kerry Ends Shuttle Diplomacy in Region and Moves Talks to Washington

AMMAN, July 20, 2013 (WAFA) – United States Secretary of State John Kerry ended Friday his shuttle diplomacy in the region and said any further follow up talks will take place in Washington starting next week.

Speaking before leaving the region after six trips since March to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process stalled since 2010, Kerry announced that he has reached “an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

Kerry expressed hope that “if everything goes as expected,” the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and his Israeli counterparts, Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, will be joining him in Washington “to begin initial talks within the next week or so.”

Describing the agreement as “a significant and welcome step forward,” Kerry, however, said that the agreement “is still in the process of being formalized,” stressing that “we are absolutely not going to talk about any of the elements now.”

He stressed that the parties to the conflict “who know the facts” are not talking about them and they agreed “that I will be the only one making further comments about this.”

He said: “I think all of us know that candid, private conversations are the very best way to preserve the time and the space for progress and understanding when you face difficult, complicated issues such as Middle East peace. The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private. Everyone knows that this is not easy. If it were, it would’ve happened a long time ago. And no one believes that the longstanding differences between the parties can be resolved overnight or just wiped away.”

Kerry said that “the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead.”

He said he was hopeful because Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “have chosen to make difficult choices here, and both of them were instrumental in pushing in this direction. We wouldn’t be standing here tonight if they hadn’t made the choices.”

Kerry thanked all those who helped him reach this conclusion in his relentless mission, particularly Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Arab League’s follow up committee as well as “many other leaders around the world, all of whom have visited here and pushed and advocated and encouraged the notion that these talks could take place.” source : wafa news